Being a social creature is hard work for some of us. We dwell largely in isolation – in my case within a loving household – and we encounter others on a more distant basis. Hardly anyone is a mortal enemy, but by the same token, there are few extremely close friends. Most people are one or two steps removed from this core contact.
Do not be sad or disapproving of this…above all don’t regard it as unnatural. Moray eels have few drinking buddies but live perfectly adequate lives. And no-one feels bad about moray eels.
The thing is, we do venture out occasionally and we meet other people. I don’t mean in the wrong lane in the car park – this is not uncommon in a suburb with SUV’s. I mean at parties, meetings, and workplaces. We need to communicate with them but we may have lost the skill of doing it through long inattention. This Covid 19 year is particularly likely to distance us, if we are lucky.
What do we say when we do meet – 6 feet apart? The safest conversation of all is small talk. Here’s a list of topics and intros to get you going:
a. What about the weather, eh?
This will start a banal exchange that can be broken at any point if someone comes in with a plate of snacks. Feel free to ask if it’s hot enough or cold enough for you.
If you are in New Zealand substitute the word “climate ” for “weather “. Mentioning wethers in New Zealand can start a whole different conversation and you may be startled at the turns it can take – particularly if the Kiwi is the romantic type.
b. What about those Knicks, eh?
Apparently there is a basketball team called the Knickerbockers and people are interested in seeing them throw orange balls through hoops. If they were called the G-strings I could pay attention, but as it is I can throw orange balls through a hoop in the back yard myself so watching professionals do it is pointless.
Professionals in G strings would rivet the attention, mind.
c. What about that election, eh?
Well there’s always an election in the offing, no matter where you live. It may be honest and fair or not – it makes no difference – because whoever you are talking to has the correct political opinion anyway and is either elated or incensed by the whole thing. Just wind them up, let them go, and nod sagely every 30 seconds. You will gain a reputation as an astute political expert.
Don’t get caught turning your hearing aid off.